10 Monday AM Reads

Now THAT was a game. Here are my post-Superbowl morning train reads:

• Just Your Average Stock Market Recovery (Servo)
• Breaking With Bogle (Bloomberg View)
• Demographics and GDP: 2% is the new 4% (Calculated Risksee also Americans Are Feeling Better About the Economy—a Lot Better (Real Time Economics)
• Best Stock Picks From Wall Street Brokerage Firms (Barron’s)

Continues here


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Discussions found on the web:
  1. RW commented on Feb 2

    Had to laugh at the Politico piece on avoiding the European austerity mistake: Not because the point of the article wasn’t true but because the point was about seven years late; for a magazine that prides itself on being first with the hot political news that’s frankly amusing. Guess the Very Serious People must finally be catching on.

  2. VennData commented on Feb 2

    “…the opening to China in 1969 and 1970, considered one of the United States’ most significant strategic gambits, was not initiated by then-President Nixon’s top national security aide Henry Kissinger. Instead, Pillsbury shows that it was Chinese generals who played the United States card against the Soviet Union, amid fears of a takeover of the country by Moscow.​..”​​


    Nixon took credit, the he didn’t deserve? No. Shocking.

    • ilsm commented on Feb 2

      Now China play the Moscow card……………

    • RW commented on Feb 2

      The credulity of the fearful and their resistance to contradictory facts has become a field of study in its own right.

      Why paranoids make the best suckers

      Here and elsewhere, the wildly credulous and the wildly distrustful have more in common than one might think. …Whether you trust too much or too little, the capacity for granular judgments is precisely what you’re ill-equipped to do. …

      We all have to live in the world, with our eyes open, ready to take a calculated risk knowing the possibility exists that our trust will be misplaced. If you’re too cynical to do that, you’ll find world of trouble. Ironically, you’re also an easy mark.

      NB: There is a link in the article to a review of recent research on anti-vaccination belief systems and predators.

    • rd commented on Feb 2

      The only thing that will change this is when the children of the wealthy un-vaccinated die or have serious complications and they realize that the vaccinated kids in their child’s classroom don’t end up with autism. That is when the first “I was an Idiot” confessionals will start to appear in the media.

      To date, the wealthy unvaccinated have been protected by the vaccinated herd, so contact with the infectious diseases has been rare. As a result, there have been no negative consequence for their actions to date. That is now starting to change, and we can expect to see many more cases showing up.

      Since vaccines are not 100% effective, that means some of the vaccinated people will also get sick through no fault of their own. Since the really serious complications of measles only occur in a small percentage of people, we are only starting to see the disease numbers now at a level where deaths and serious side effects should be expected to occur. Hospitalizations of those cases will be another source of infectious disease in a location where people with compromised immune system are common.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight commented on Feb 2

      I don’t know that the “I was an idiot” confessionals work, either.

      Literally for years, I’ve been seeing interviews with people who left their cars running and unattended, usually at “quickee” marts or warming up in their driveways.

      Almost every time, the person says, “Yeah, I saw all the other people on TV saying they shouldn’t have left the keys in the ignition”, but that they never believed it could happen to them.

      It’s bad enough when you’re dealing with simple human stupidity, but when it becomes an ideological belief it’s virtually impossible to overcome.

    • rd commented on Feb 2

      Christie has come out in favor of “parental choice” for vaccines. I assume that to be consistent with his past positions on public health, he will also order quarantining households with the measles or other dangerous childhood diseases that we had largely eradicated using vaccines. Since the measles is highly contagious and people can be contagious 4 days before they show symptoms (unlike ebola), the quarantine action would be necessary for public health. I am sure that the anti-vaccine parents won’t mind such an order as they are so focused on protecting health.

  3. VennData commented on Feb 2

    Nationwide defends “Make Safe Happen” Super Bowl ad

    “…We have thousands” of people visit our site.​..”


    ​They were right!​

    ROFL. ​Out of a billion viewers.​ “Good” things happen when old white men from the worlds of finance and marketing get together. What is it about these brittle cracker sticks that can never admit they were wrong?

    Nationwide! your ad was horrible!

    But we have our own crumbling whities here in the Land of Lincoln And like Kansas, the new Private equity-investing Illinois Governor cut taxes. But he’s still hiring people to make a budget!


    Why don’t Republicans cut spending first. Wait to see how it works out THEN cut taxes?

    • farmera1 commented on Feb 2

      This is the old and failed “Starve the Beast” action. Cut taxes mostly for the rich and let the chips fall where they may. The one percent isn’t rich enough so we are going to keep more of the pie. The courts, the press and the government are making this legal, sound moral and the right thing to do. The one per centers have the perfect cover, and we want more. People always want more rather than less. So why not take it?

    • intlacct commented on Feb 3

      The tattered remnants of the middle and working class are like battered spouses. They go for the ‘devil you know’. These tax cutters bring in an employer and give it all sorts of breaks because they compete against other states in a race to the bottom. The states would be much wiser, long-term, to coalesce and cooperate.

      America has an infection called ‘individualism’. Angling to cut your own private deal and tough for everyone else (think education, health care, everything that is important).

      America is also bedeviled by a certain schizophrenia. We don’t trust the government … except when it comes to spending trillions of dollars killing a million folks. Why do we trust the government to be right on such life and death decisions (especially when they have been proven wrong numerous times…)?

      These are problems.

  4. Jojo commented on Feb 2

    Ha! Can this useful app could be translated to 1st world post-agrarian economies? Everyone surely wants to know how much their woman is worth!
    App in South Africa Judges How Many Cows to Pay for a Wife
    by Franz Wild
    January 23, 2015

    (Bloomberg) — A software developer in Johannesburg has taken the time-honored African tradition of paying a bride price into the tech age. He designed an app to calculate the woman’s value.

    Anyone weighing up whether to ask for a woman’s hand can enter her stats into 26-year-old Kopo Robert Matsaneng’s Lobola Calculator and it churns out her value in the currency, the rand, and tells you how many cows that would equate to. The price can also be converted into pounds, euros and dollars on the app.

    The app considers the person’s age, height, weight, waist size, and how attractive they are: ranging from “not at all” to “really hot.” The prospective groom must also enter what qualifications the woman has, whether she has a job, whether she’s been married before and whether she’s got children.



  5. rd commented on Feb 2

    The apologists for the 0.1% are coming out now against Obama’s proposed maximum value of IRAs. An argument made here is that only 1 in 1,000 IRAs is worth more than this amount, so it doesn’t matter. In the 2012 presidential campaign, it came out that Mitt Romney had a $100 million or more IRA. Fidelity just announced that their average IRA balance was $92k. So Mitt Romney’s 2012 IRA balance was worth more than 999 people investing in IRAs at Fidelity today (Romney’s IRA has probably gone up in value since 2012 too).

    Romney’s IRA probably got as big as it did by putting in some Bain Capital deal shares at a very low nominal value that then were “repriced” at a later date when they went public or were sold in a private deal. The typical person does not have the ability to declare the initial value of the S&P 500 index fund shares that they would like their cost basis to be.

    There are limits to contributions to IRAs, 401ks etc. today. Why shouldn’t there be some reasonable limit on the total value of these accounts to make sure that they are not abused by creative accounting? A cap in the range of $3M or s seems reasonable as it allows about 98% of the population to amass large savings (by their standards) while preventing it from being another vehicle to create gross inequality.


  6. GeorgeBurnsWasRight commented on Feb 2

    Re: the Servo article on stock market recovery statistics, I think there’s two things going on.

    First, a lot of people don’t believe the rising stock prices are valid for purely ideological reasons.

    Second, our minds give recency more weight, and the previous recovery was weaker than average, so many people think this one should be weaker, also.

  7. rd commented on Feb 2

    Bogle is back with another quote: “You can’t copy Beethoven or Buffet. You can copy Bogle any day: just buy the damn index fund”


    BTW – I think everybody focuses on Buffet’s acumen as a buyer of stocks, but they don’t pay much attention to the synergy he can get within Berkshire Hathaway working with cash flow and investment opportunities, like the insurer that Berkshire Hathaway really is. Buffet is closer to the manager of a private equity firm than a mutual fund. He has probably made more money uncovering synergies between Berkshire components than from the actual purchases of the components. The investing of free cash flow element was clear when he could simply plunk down a few billion on the table for Goldman Sachs in the depths of the financial crisis.

  8. VennData commented on Feb 2

    Save Fraternities!


    Look at the picture of this dweeb.

    No Dweeb, END Fraternities, So instead of a walled garden you have to go out and interact with the people you should meet in college, the diverse collection of minds. Not the walled of Suburban Garden of sameness.

    Shut down the whole damn thing.

  9. RW commented on Feb 2

    Anti-vaxx appears to not follow clearly political lines, becoming rather an ideology or a faith unto itself. For those most fearful and resistant to factual contradiction only deeply sympathetic approaches seem sufficient inoculation against myth, lies and nonsense WRT vaccination; e.g.,

    On Immunity

    On becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear—fear of the government, the medical establishment, what is in your child’s air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world.
    In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America and the world, historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected—our bodies and our fates.

    Biss’s research is solid IMO and she writes well but for those whose capacity for logic (and humor) remains intact a straightforward counterfactual may help too:

    Something’s just not right …

    One caveman talking to another: “Something’s just not right—our air is clean, our water is pure, we all get plenty of exercise, everything we eat is organic and free-range, and yet nobody lives past thirty.”

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